#@!#* Tree Limbs?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOturkey, Jun 24, 2007.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,757

    I have a customer who lives only half a mile for me. The property was actually my first account when I started my mowing service. The property is 2 acres, and has perhaps 15 relatively young trees in the yard, mostly maples. The only mature trees, about 5 if I remember correctly, are those Chinese elms.

    Anyhow, I'm sure you all know how the limbs of both species seem to multiply overnight and tend to hang downward as they grow.

    The previous owner of the property would keep them trimmed back, or if he didn't have time, would tell me to just cut whatever I wanted, and bill him for it. I never charged him near what it was really worth, as I figured it was helping me out at the same time, but I did charge a few bucks a couple of times a year.

    Okay, the home sells in January of '06. A single mom from California, with one teenage son. This is one of the nicer homes in the immediate area, and the gal drives a Land Rover, so I figure she is pretty well off finanancially. The previous owner had referred her to me, so come spring, she calls for service. I upped my price $10 as I had originally bid a little low. No problem.

    Mowed all summer of '06, and mentioned to her about the previous owner hiring me to remove the limbs that were in the way, but she never took the hint. I just cut a few limbs myself, to make mowing more tolerable, and threw them on a brush pile in the back.

    She got behind on paying me, but as promised, when she found a job about the first of this year, she paid up.

    Well, this year, the tree limbs are getting to the point that it is almost dangerous to mow under the trees, and is really a PITA big time. Takes me about 15 minutes longer to mow than it should. I've also stretched the interval between mowing, because she lost her job, and is having trouble paying.

    Now, I don't mind helping someone out, and she paid me up the last time after getting behind, so I'm willing to work with her on that issue, up to a point. As for the tree limbs, her son is probably 14 (she is late 30's), and he, or she, for that matter, could whack the limbs and drag them to the back of the yard, but they do not do ANYTHING in the yard. She won't even pick up what is left of cardboard boxes in the driveway from when she moved in.:rolleyes:

    If it were just a few limbs, on a couple of trees, I'd just whack them myself and forget about it. I've done it on this place, and a couple of others, but to really alleviate the problem, I figure would require 2-3 hours work, minimum, by the time you trim all the limbs and haul them to the back of the place, and I just don't feel like doing any more charity work for her.

    I'm wondering what kind of policy most of you have regarding the tree limb problem? Do you charge them, refuse service, raise your price to cover the extra time, or what?

    Dropping the account, is, of course, an option, and it may eventually come to that, but this place is so close to my home I hate to lose it, as I can run up and do it anytime I have a couple of hours free. Most of my other accounts are a 30 minute drive away. Thanks for your replies.
  2. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,085

    Just start mowing around the trees & do what you can. If they choose to disregard your recommendations, then it's their problem, not yours.
  3. mkroher

    mkroher LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 539

    I agree.. mow around them.. let it grow. It'll become unsightly and she may eventually say something.

    wait a minute...she DID have boxes in her driveway for how long? She might not say anything.

    What if you raise the price of mowing again? $x increase for 25-26 mows...does that get you the compensation you would want to take care of the limbs? If you want $150 to take care of the limbs, charge her an extra $5-6 bucks per mow.
  4. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,085

    It won't matter to raise the price if you are already financing her services. I'd definitely be charging a finance fee anyways.
  5. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,220

    start taking some of it out in TRADE :cool2:
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Sounds like another one of those accounts headed to the collections department, if it's only a matter of time, I usually make sure I get paid per service on these... And I really would rather not have them in the first place, but things are slow and I got stuck on a few as well :cry:

    It almost always comes to a screeching halt some kind of way, once I insist on getting paid per cut then it takes forever so the grass is super tall the next time so it costs extra, it snowballs from there or I go 500 extra miles every time... The pay is slow, if I get paid, usually they never pay up for all of it, some to most come close, but not quite. Sad, but their job situation is not my problem, nor is any other financial situation of theirs.

    These are the kind of lots I estimate somewhere above normal price, I don't even fool with trying to be fair here, more so because I already know it won't be fair anyhow. Typical example of a $40 1/4 acre and $100 / hour for other stuff, I hate to be like this but even with those prices I get took, time after time I keep driving when I see it's going to be like that, but one gets tired of free estimates as well.

    idk what else to do
  7. Nosmo

    Nosmo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,216

    :laugh: yeah -- and get the 14 year old to trim the trees.
  8. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,206

    So why not weed eat them.....don't you have to weedeat around the tree anyway so it takes another 30 seconds?
  9. echeandia

    echeandia LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,131

    I also have a customer with many trees with low hanging branches. I told her that the branches were too low and that someone might get injured. Well she cuts a few of the branches but they are still too low. So I tell her that her lawn is much more difficult to cut than I originally estimated and have to raise her price $10 to $60 per cut. She agrees and I now I deal with the low branches.
  10. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Posts: 1,624

    I'd approach her next time you are there and tell her that the trees are becoming a safety issue. I've been stuck by branches all over my body and have thought I was ducking my head low enough but still jam my head into a large branch. Hurts like hell when you hit it just right and you feel every vertebrae in your spine compress.

    Give her an option of mowing around and not cutting under trees so you dont hurt yourself, or use the My mower will break off branches line. Tell her a broken branch will allow disease to enter the wound and she could lose part or all of the tree.

    Its one or the other, She lets you cut the trees or you cant mow or trim under them because the limbs are to low to the ground to be able to have access to the grass.

    If she gives you crap tell her how trimming blind under the branches will lead to scalping the grass and eventually kill all the grass under the tree. Good luck. Keep your mowing price and get the money up front for the tree trimming.

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